Where did the idea for the Crunchy Life Kid's series come from?
Having grown up without any positive male models, the odds of socially developing into a productive and successful man was not in my favor. My mother dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and formal education was never reinforced or prioritized in my household. Instead, I watched my mother, her brothers and most of the people around me in my community fall victim to drug abuse and violence. It wasn’t until I was ten-years-old when I finally had the support around me to see that there was more to life than making a quick buck and struggling to get by on a day to day basis. Fast-forwarding my life to college, I was blessed to earn a full athletic scholarship where by then, school and academic were my main priority. A life of athletics would ultimately end immediately following playing division 1 football. After deciding to teach after graduating, I knew that writing stories for students of color was going to be my life’s passion.
What is Crunchy Life about?
Crunchy Life is an American series of children's books written by African American author Glen Mourning. The books are written for students between the ages of 7 and 13. The series consists of real life experiences and common hardships that many children and families face in cities across the country. The two main characters are Charles Anthony Thomas, a troublesome fifth-grade student who attends Elite Public Charter in Washington, D.C. and his teacher Mr. Tyron Leroy. Mr. Leroy is a former NFL superstar who decided to stop playing football at the height of his career to dedicate the rest of his life to working as a school teacher. The series depicts the lives that young boys and girls of color experience in pursuit of education and better opportunities in life. Crunchy learns life lessons from his single mother as well as from his grandma who helps support and raise Crunchy and his two siblings. Finding a way to improve his attitude and to become a better student are among some of Crunchy’s everyday challenges. A typical life at the fictional Elite Public Charter School is nothing short of mesmerizing and amazing as Crunchy and his friends grow and learn from crunchy situations.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day for me included waking up at 5:00 am to read my daily devotional from my Bible app. After preparing for the day with a healthy breakfast consisting of oatmeal and fruit, I spend my day teaching English language arts to my 4th grade class at Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by not being confined to a clock or a schedule. I set goals for myself that include word counts that I need to reach for my kid’s books. When musically inclined to use my talents, I create lyrics that are both positive and inspirational for my students which is usually followed up with videos and dancing. I also listen to a ton of instrumental beats during my writing hours of 1:00 am and 3:00 am on the weekdays or weekends.
What’s one trend that excites you?
A trend that excites me is the YouTube channel wave that young creatives are on. I think that before social media and before self-starter platforms were easily accessible, people were dying to share their ideas and creativity with the world. Nowadays, it doesn’t take a mainstream publisher or agent for your ideas or skills to be shared with the rest of the world.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Reading. I am always hungry for learning. I never settle for when things are going well or if I learn how to do something “good”. I am a firm believer that good is the enemy of great and that the day you stop learning and improving your craft is the day you die.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Just do it. Whatever comes to your mind in terms of an idea or a creative way to improve someone elses life or even your own, don’t be afraid that someone might not like it or that the masses won’t understand you. Just do it and put everything you have into it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Milk is bad for you. As a kid, I watched those milk does the body good commercials but all milk does is make humans sick. There’s even a pill for it…why should we have to take a pill “before” ingesting something? In addition to that…humans are the only animal that drink the milk of another animal.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stay true to your walk. Even if people say that “that’s been done before” or “yeah, everyone wants to do that”, stay true to what you’re passionate about. When you go to the grocery store, there are over 15 companies that manufacture bread. But they are all in the same isle and people have their preference which almost guarantees that the bread sells. But I also say that if you are writing self help books and have never been through real life struggles…how can you prescribe suggestions and solutions to people? If you are selling merchandise or a product but you don’t wear it or believe in the brand, why would you expect others to?
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Paying for advertisement and then giving away free product. Not investing in yourself “wisely” is a huge mistake. In order for people to take you seriously, you have to be willing to take yourself seriously and that means spending some of your own money.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When it comes to literature, it’s a tough business to blossom in. I simply believe that my mistake as an entrepreneur that I regret the most was in not having done the research ahead of time to know what my audience for my literature and themes should have been. I was trying to market a book to EVERYBODY before learning that a book for everyone is a book for no one.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Reach out to charter school networks and provide parent training on services that your company or business provides. If you reach out to and are effectively creating change in the minds and hearts of the stakeholders for the disenfranchised, the morale of communities can shift. If the communities that are the lowest performing communities in academics and within the economic spectrum are given hope, it will drive more people to employment, thus creating more earnings and resources for low end households which will ultimately result in creating more customers and consumers who otherwise wouldn’t be in position to participate in the presented market.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
As the flag football coach for my elementary school, we lost in the championship back in April. I told the team that we would celebrate our participation and slight accomplishments. With that being said, I held a pizza party and cup cake celebration for kids who were on the team. The bill was probably close to $100. The reason why this was the best use of $100 personally and professionally is because in that room that afternoon, one of those kids hit the peak of being encouraged and inspired to return the favor. I was once a ten-year-old student athlete and my motto in life is “do for others, what you wish someone did for you”. Now I know the pizza is gone and they kids may have even forgotten my positive words of encouragement, but the love that the kids felt, one kid in particular, will always remain. That’s all it takes to create real change. Love. And in this case, I may never see or hear about the fruit of my own labor and how by investing in the kids that a life may have been changed and altered forever. But I do know that its possible and its always worth it.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Kindle Direct Publishing: As an independent and self published author, create space is the platform which makes it possible for me to bring my literature to life as professional as possible.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Strength Based Leadership” by Tom Rath: It is the all encompassing guide to discovering what leadership is, how you can tap into your own ability and why it is necessary to continue learning.
Key take aways:
• Be aware of the doubt that you place on your own ability. Words mean things, and thoughts usually transfer over in the form of action steps. The more positive your thoughts are, the more positive your words will be and the more inclined you will be to taking positive action towards daily goals.
• Always prioritize your relationships. First there is your relationship with your self-worth. Then there is your relationship with your self-esteem and lastly is your relationship with your selfish tendencies. Take care of your mind and body and treat everyone with the highest level of dignity and respect.
• Never settle for no. In life you’ll be turned down and disregarded a million times. But with any attempt at finding success in the world, all you truly need is one yes to maximize sharing your talent and life’s work with the rest of the world.